The investment market was plummeted in 2008 and toward the end of the year the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that U.S. retirement plans alone had lost as much as $2 trillion. This doesn’t include the many other ways to invest where losses scaled upward toward $6.9 trillion by early 2009.
With so much money lost, many people decided to cut back on investing to avoid losing more money.
According to an Oct. 2009 survey conducted by AlixPartners, LLP, 49 percent of investors surveyed said that they either stopped or reduced investing in stocks or mutual funds. Twenty-six percent said they have no intention of investing in these financial vehicles for at least three years.
Of course, you don’t have to stop investing altogether because times have been rough. It’s good to know that there are places to invest, even during a difficult economic time like our nation’s current recession. It’s just a matter of knowing when, where and how to invest, as well as how to make good choices for the long run.
The Safe Route
Probably the first consideration you’ll make when thinking of investing your money is taking the safe route, which could include putting your money into money market accounts and similar instruments, like CDs and T-Bills, which allow you to grow your money based using an interest rate you agree to:
- Money Market Accounts – Similar to high-yield savings accounts, money market accounts are offered through banking institutions and allow for investors to grow their money in a liquid or semi-liquid account at a specified interest rate.
- Treasury Bills (T-Bills) – T-Bills are government-issued bonds that allow investors to pay a particular sum over a specific period of time. They are issued at less than face value so that after they’ve matured, you will be paid at face value.
- Certificate of Deposit (CD) – The CD is also a short-term borrowing tool (however, some can stretch out to five-year terms). They are offered through banks like savings and money market accounts. During the term, you won’t have access to your funds (unless you accept an early withdrawal penalty) but you will be able to retrieve your funds at a matured rate.
When going for these safer investment options, keep in mind that unless you secure a fixed interest rate, it could fluctuate at a moment’s notice. If your rate is variable, you might find that your 2.50% APY has dropped to 1.36% within a day.
Stock Investments and Counter-Cyclical Stocks
Typically, when you think about true investing in the financial market, you think of stocks and bonds. While bonds are relatively safe, the stock market can be a bit riskier. However, if you’re smart about the way you manage your stocks, you could still benefit rather nicely from these investments.
There has always been talk about diversifying your portfolio to ensure that your funds are safe if the market plummets. However, many investors found that when the entire market drops – versus just a few companies – diversification doesn’t mean as much, except with counter-cyclical stocks.
Counter-cyclical stocks move in the opposite direction of the S&P 500 and business trends in general (i.e. the health care industry adds more jobs during a recession), which means if you line up with companies that function well during difficult economic times like those in food or medicine, you have a chance of greater stability within your portfolio. And depending on the company you invest in (i.e. Wal-Mart), you might actually see gains as the company lowers costs and sells more to accommodate the difficult times.
What’s great about counter-cyclical stocks is even if they do drop some to reflect temporary consumer abandonment, they usually bounce back pretty quickly because consumers have basic needs that only certain companies can fulfill.
If you’re thinking of making your first investments during the recession, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. You want to make decisions that will sustain you financially in the long run, which is why it’s a good idea to spend as much time possible researching how to invest safely after a recession so that if another one strikes you won’t lose all of your money.